What’s cooking today: Air fryer calamari with garlic-herb mayo

By Tony Jackman 15 September 2021

Tony Jackman’s calamari strips cooked in an air fryer, photographed in a mottled blue bowl by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Calamari is always a challenge to cook. We’ve all had failures, but when it’s right, it’s oh, so right. Enter the air fryer...

Tony Jackman

Air fryer? That doesn’t sound like Jackman, surely? And you’d be right. But I have one on loan, for review, so I’m giving it a good shot. The device is an Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer and is a pressure cooker too among other things (it fries, it steams, it grills, it roasts, it keeps food warm, it sings you lullabyes when you’re going off to sleep). It even has a sous vide mode (I’ll be using that soon). I’ve named it R2D2.

Boy, did the calamari work. It was simply perfect. 

The quantities here are only a loose guide. If you’re having them as a main meal or feeding more people, increase all the quantities accordingly.

(Serves 2 as a starter)


400 to 500 g calamari strips

250 ml buttermilk

½ cup flour

2 eggs, beaten with 2 Tbsp milk

1 cup fine breadcrumbs (Panko if you like but our local brands such as Bokomo are good too)

Garlic salt, pepper and Cayenne pepper to season both the flour and the breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp cooking oil

Cooking spray

Herb-garlic mayo:

½ cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp chopped coriander

2 Tbsp chopped garlic

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Salt and black pepper to taste


Rinse and dry the calamari and place in a bowl. Pour buttermilk in to cover, stir, and refrigerate for an hour.

When it’s nearly time to cook, remove the calamari from the fridge and bring to room temperature.

Set out three bowls and a fourth container.

In the first, put the flour with a little seasoning stirred in.

In the second, beat the eggs with a little milk.

In the third, put the breadcrumbs and stir in a little seasoning. Also add 2 Tbsp cooking oil to the crumbs and stir in evenly with a fork.

Spray the base and lower sides of the air fryer basket with oil.

Remove calamari strips from the buttermilk one at a time, draining off the buttermilk, and first coat in flour, then dip in egg, then coat in crumbs. Put them in the fourth container.

When you have enough to fill the base of the air fryer basket, lay them out with space between them on the air fryer basket base, without overfilling.

Set the fryer to air fry for 4 minutes at 204℃. When that’s done, turn or move them around with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula and repeat for another four minutes.

Place on kitchen paper over a bowl.

Mix the mayo with the chopped coriander, chopped garlic, lemon juice, and salt and black pepper to taste. Serve alongside a generous portion of calamari strips with lemon wedges. DM/TGIFood

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected]

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